Sunday, March 6, 2011

Where will the baby be born?

Many people who find out I'm pregnant ask me questions relating to when the baby is around, like "Have you thought about a name yet?" or "Have you gotten your nursery ready?" But truthfully, almost all we thought about for the first few months was the labor itself -- how did I want to labor, and more importantly, where?

When I think back to late fall, when Stuart and I first started having that conversation, I'm amazed at how much I have changed my viewpoint in just a few short months. One thing I knew from the beginning was that I wanted to have a midwife rather than a doctor, although even my reasons for that have changed over time. Many of my friends worked with a midwife, and the initial appeal for me was that I could see the same friendly person throughout my pregnancy, get to know her well, and be assured she would be there throughout my labor and birth process -- as opposed to a doctor who may or may not be on call at the time I give birth and who would likely only show up at the end when the baby was on its way out.

For a long while, I believed we would have a midwife, but still deliver in a hospital. Several local midwife groups do this, and this is how my close friends delivered their babies. It seemed very safe. I would have someone I knew to support me throughout labor, but I could still be in a hospital to receive care if I had complications. But as I researched more about the positives of midwives, I also learned some things that did not comfort me about hospital births. I wanted to have a natural birth -- no c-section, no medications, no inducing labor or other interventions. But I read many statistics about the high number of c-sections among hospital births, and learned that sometimes these are partially caused by hospital interventions. I'm not saying all medications or c-sections are bad (they're very necessary in medical emergencies and many women understandably choose to have an epidural to get through the pain of labor) but they weren't what I wanted from my experience. Also, I've never felt comfortable in hospitals -- several bad experiences with doctors over the years have made me dread the hospital environment. I didn't want to give birth in a place where I was nervous, uncomfortable and may not be able to let my baby come naturally the way I wanted.

We interviewed several midwives, including a group that delivers at a local hospital, a group at a birth center not connected with a hospital and a woman who only does home births. I admit, I only interviewed the home birth midwife to appease Stuart -- he was excited at the idea, but I was way too terrified of what might happen if something went wrong and I wasn't in an environment where I could receive medical help. Home birth sounded cool from the natural birth perspective, but too scary for me. I wasn't completely closed to the idea, however. Recently I read Michael Perry's wonderful memoir "Coop," where he details his wife's home birth. Several details appealed to me, including the fact that they never had to leave the house -- from the start, the baby was at home in bed with mom, in the safe environment where it would grow up. We also watched an enlightening (albeit extremely biased) documentary called "The Business of Being Born" which showed me another wonderful aspect of home births: mom or dad can catch the baby themselves and immediately hold the baby close, rather than watching it be whisked away first to be cared for by doctors. Research shows this immediate contact with the baby helps with bonding over the long-term.

We ended up choosing the birth center, Bella Vie, because the midwife we met was wonderful and she understood and agreed with our needs. Also, they have a really beautiful birth center, a turn-of-the-century farm house that they renovated and converted into multiple rooms for birthing. Outside of my own home, it was about as comfortable as I could imagine. Finally, these midwives give you the option of delivering at their birth center or at home, so I still had a choice, and I didn't have to make up my mind yet.

It was only about a week or two ago that we made our choice: home birth. We just finished building a beautiful, safe and eco-friendly home that we plan to raise our family in, and it seemed like the perfect environment to also give birth in. Our house is only a 10-minute drive from the hospital, so medical help is close if we need it. I fell in love with the idea of having my baby be at home from the beginning, and not having to spend several days recovering in a hospital. But most importantly, I felt the support for home birth from many of my friends and from my midwife. I was worried that home birth sounded like such a foreign and scary option that people would doubt my decision. (A friend who recently gave birth told me she stopped telling people she planned to do it naturally because they kept giving her condescending looks that said, "Yeah right, you have no idea what you're in for.") But the more friends I told about it, the more I heard positive comments and excitement about home birth. When we told our midwife our decision yesterday, she cheered and was quite excited to help us through this experience.

I never could have imagined this was the decision we would make. But for now, it feels more right than anything else I've considered during this pregnancy. I can't wait for my baby to open its eyes outside the womb and see its loving parents -- and its new home.

This is where we want our baby to be born.

1 comment:

  1. *Thrilled* for your latest decision! You have a great track record as parents so far, Sarah. So, so excited for you. And a wee bit jealous.